Old middle school is new again

November 02, 2005|by RICHARD F. BELISLE

MERCERSBURG, PA. - The nation's 15th president probably would beam with pride if he walked through the newly renovated middle school that bears his name.

Tuscarora School District officials, members of its school board and a handful of taxpayers were at James Buchanan Middle School for the official dedication of its $12 million renovation Tuesday night.

The project, for which construction began in July 2004, increases the building's size by about 25 percent and adds such features as a multimedia library, the equivalent of 15 new classrooms, its first air-conditioning system, new computer labs, new gym floor and bleachers, lockers and restrooms, new windows throughout and renovations to all existing classrooms.


Brandon Snyder, 14, of Montgomery Township, went on the tour with his father, Vaughn Snyder.

Brandon Snyder is a freshman at James Buchanan High School next door. Much of the construction was done while classes were in session during the past year.

The disruptions were no problem, said Brandon, who said he likes architecture.

"I enjoyed seeing the building come up," he said.

Linda Dice, a building secretary, was working alone in the new administration offices Tuesday night reveling in her modern new surroundings.

Dice graduated from the school in 1971, the last year it was James Buchanan Junior Senior High School and has worked for the district since.

The new high school opened in 1972 and the old school, which housed students in grades seven through 12, became James Buchanan Middle School.

It was built in 1954. Its current enrollment is 630 students in grades six through eight.

Classrooms were added in 1962 and some renovations were completed in 1975, Jeff Spidel, school board president, told the small assembly in the school's newly renovated auditorium.

A feasibility study four years ago told the school board that the building was in dire need of repairs, as were two of the district's four elementary schools - Mountain View and Montgomery, he said.

The board took advantage of low interest rates and voted to spend $20 million on the three buildings, Spidel said.

Renovations of $8 million are under way in the elementary buildings with completion scheduled in the spring.

Tuscarora Superintendent of Schools Thomas Stapleford, recovering from recent surgery, leaned heavily on his wife, Lisa, as he hobbled to the stage.

He praised the foresight and courage of the school board for taking on the renovation projects and praised the school's staff, teachers and students for their patience and assistance during construction.

"There were more (construction) curves in the road than we expected, but it was worth the wait and the bumps," Stapleford said. "This is the kind of facility that every child should have the opportunity to attend."

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